Electrically conductive polymer composites for smart flexible strain sensors: a critical review
The rapid development of wearable smart devices has contributed to the enormous demands for smart flexible strain sensors. However, to date, the poor stretchability and sensitivity of conventional metals or inorganic semiconductor-based strain sensors have restricted their application in this field to some extent, and hence many efforts have been devoted to find suitable candidates to overcome these limitations. Recently, novel resistive-type electrically conductive polymer composites (ECPCs)-based strain sensors have attracted attention based on their merits of light weight, flexibility, stretchability, and easy processing, thus showing great potential applications in the fields of human movement detection, artificial muscles, human–machine interfaces, soft robotic skin, etc. For ECPCs-based strain sensors, the conductive filler type and the phase morphology design have important influences on the sensing property. Meanwhile, to achieve a successful application toward wearable devices, several imperative features, including a self-healing capability, superhydrophobicity, and good light transmission, need to be considered. The aim of the present review is to critically review the progress of ECPCs-based strain sensors and to foresee their future development.